Piedmont football comes up just short

Tommy Ashton (8) breaks through to block an Alameda field goal attempt. (Photo: Steve Long)

The Piedmont High School football team came about as close as you can to pulling off the win over undefeated Alameda on Oct. 7. The Highlanders got a first down at the 5-yard line in the closing seconds of the game and had three shots at the game-winning touchdown. But they came up short and the Hornets survived with a 16-13 victory.

“It’s a good game if you win,” lamented Piedmont coach Jordan Seiden when a reporter foolishly suggested it was a good game.

Alameda’s Shani Elias kicked a 24-yard field goal with four minutes, 22 seconds to go in the game to put the Hornets up, 16-13. After Sam Shelby returned the ensuing kickoff to the Piedmont 35, the Highlanders (3-3, 1-1 West Alameda County Conference Shoreline Division) began moving up the field on a final drive in pursuit of the win.

Highlander Offensive Line clears the way for the rushing game. Jordan Alemania (55), Adrian Kondakov (56), Liam Leahy (61), Derek Schleuning (50) and Nick King (77). (Photo: Steve Long)

Tommy Ashton got the call on six plays, rushing for 33 yards on the early part of the drive. On a third-and-2 from the Alameda 11, quarterback Markos Lagios ran for six and a first down.

On first down, Lagios hit Cash Elmquist for a gain to the 2. Lagios then got tackled for a one-yard loss by Evan Green. The Highlanders were out of timeouts and rushed to the line to get one more play off. It was Ashton on a run up the gut. Several Piedmont players thought he got in, signaling a touchdown. The officials signaled otherwise, ruling Ashton was just short.

Junior Miguel Long (21) reads the Hornets bubble screen and goes to make the tackle. (Photo: Steve Long)

“We had three plays inside the 5-yard line,” Seiden said. “We came up short and just ran out of time. We had to burn a timeout in the third quarter and it came back to bite us in the butt.”

Piedmont’s offense put up 294 yards in the game but Seiden felt it didn’t get rolling until the final drive. The Highlanders had an off week the weekend before and lost some practice time due to air quality issues during the two weeks of preparation.

“The execution wasn’t what we hoped,” he said. “It’s like trying to play basketball and not working on layups, trying to play baseball and not taking batting practice. It showed.”

Piedmont’s best play came as a surprise. The Highlanders had just stopped Alameda late in the first half on an Ashton interception and called a simple run/screen pass play to run out the clock. Lagios swung the ball out to Shelby on the right side and Shelby got loose, turning it into an 87-yard touchdown to break a 7-7 tie. A bad snap led to a blocked kick on the extra point and it was 13-7 at the break.

“We just wanted to run the ball and get into the half,” Seiden said. “The read that we had was a screen look. He (Lagios) hit Sam and Sam did what Sam does.”

Quarterback Markos Lagios (4) carries the ball around the right side with Tailback Tommy Ashton leading the way. Dash Waters-Worthen (1) comes back to make a block. (Photo: Steve Long)

Lagios finished 11 of 17 for 150 yards an the touchdown against no interceptions. Lagios also led the running game, accumulating 81 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Alameda (6-0, 2-0) scored first on a 31-yard run by Evan Green early in the second quarter. Piedmont immediately evened the score on a 44-yard run by Lagios.

Junior Outside Line Backer Brandon Dicke (6) breaks through to the Alameda backfield. (Photo: Steve Long)

Green tied the game in the third quarter on a two-yard run to cap a 13-play, 76-yard drive. The Highlanders had a chance to go up early in the fourth quarter, but a 29-yard field goal attempt by Shelby was partially blocked.

Seiden said the Piedmont defense played terrific.

“They played great,” he said. “They shut down what had been a pretty powerful offense. Alameda hadn’t been down all season. They knew they were in a fight.”

“Our defense came to play. They were tackling well.”

The Highlanders next play on Oct. 14 at San Lorenzo. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.

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